Blue Ridge Makes A Spectacular Return With A Bryn Mawr Championship

Jul 1, 2004 - 10:00 PM

Hounds from the Blue Ridge Hunt, from Boyce, Va., hadn’t shown at the Bryn Mawr Hound Show for more than 30 years. But this year, Linda Armbrust, jt.-MFH, made a late entry at the urging of friends of the show, and with Huntsman Dennis Downing, took the hounds across the Mason-Dixon Line to the Radnor Hunt Club, Malvern, Pa. And on June 5 their return proved a triumphant one as their imported stallion hound Blue Ridge’s Mid Devon Grocer ’00 took home the English championship and grand championship.

Downing made good presentations of his hounds, despite a day of cold rain. When he led Grocer into the ring, judge C. Martin Wood III, MFH Live Oak Hounds (Fla.), knew he was looking at a champion. “This dog has very serious quality. He could win anywhere in the world. This dog hound is as nice an English dog as I’ve seen in America,” said Wood, who judged with Mrs. Mark Bedwell, MFH Brandywine Hounds (Pa.).

A large dog hound with fluid movement, Grocer was pronounced champion dog and later champion English hound. In the grand championship ring, Grocer came up against three other outstanding dog hounds to be judged by Mrs. Daphne Wood, MFH. American champion Orange County Forger, Crossbred champion Elkridge-Harford Fairfax, and Penn-Marydel champion Andrew’s Bridge Salvo all exhibited extremely well, still full of energy at the end of the cold, wet day.

But Grocer readily stood out among the group–he had a heartgirth like a Secretariat of foxhounds. Daphne Wood selected Grocer as the grand champion, and then paid Blue Ridge the highest compliment a judge could bestow–she and Marty made arrangements with Armbrust to send one of their bitches to Grocer for breeding. Upon announcement of her pick, Daphne said, “I’m so pleased to see all dog hounds that are entered hounds in the grand championship ring. Dogs have so much more influence in the breed. You don’t know what you have with an unentered hound. They could run deer or other trash. All four dogs are of such qual-ity, and [Grocer] is such a nice English hound, extremely nice quality.”

Blue Ridge has always been an English and Crossbred pack. Since Armbrust came on as joint master in 2000, she has taken a keen interest in the breeding program at Blue Ridge. “Her friend Nigel Peel [MFH North Cotswold] has always helped us,” said Downing. “Grocer was bred at North Cotswold, and since they only keep bitches, Grocer was entered at Mid Devon and then he came to us. He’s hunted one season here, and he’s a very nice dog, very honest.”

Armbrust was a master in England before returning to the United States, and she said she’s known Peel for 25 years. “Nigel was a very good friend of Judy Greenhalgh [late and former MFH of Blue Ridge]. It’s important to get good hounds, and he’s been very generous,” said Armbrust.

For the last two years, a paltry two packs had exhibited in the English ring at Bryn Mawr. But this year, five packs entered, although the rain reduced the number of dogs that actually showed in all rings. Orange County Comeback Orange County Forger ’00 earned the American hound championship over the champion bitch, Essex Action ’02. Forger, expertly handled by Huntsman Adrian Smith, showed the marks of a seasoned hound, but still moved with the energy and attention of a much younger hound.

Dennis Foster, ex-MFH and executive director of the MFHA, judged the American hounds with Nancy Bedwell, jt.-MFH Brandywine Hounds (Pa.). Foster noted, “Forger is very well-balanced and a great mover. [Action] is a fabulous mover, but she’s not quite the quality of the dog.” Forger represents an important comeback for the Orange County kennel in Fauquier County, Va. Forger is by Orange County Winston ’94 out of Orange County Frantic ’94. In the fall of 1997, Frantic lost all of her littermate brothers when a car on the road killed 12 Orange County dog hounds. Those 12 were by Potomac Forgo ’93, a champion stallion hound to whom James L. Young, MFH, sent Orange County Brenda ’90.

Among those killed were Orange County Fargo ’96, champion American hound at the 1997 Virginia Foxhound Show and Orange County Forger ’96, reserve champion dog hound. “Forgo was a prepotent sire for Potomac, and we were very excited about that line he produced,” said Young. Frantic, like all the other bitch hounds, was in the kennel that tragic day. Frantic is the dam of Forger, and his sire Winston, making Forger a grandson of Potomac Forgo. Forger has proved himself a valuable hound in the field too.

“He seems to be the one, when the pack is running well, that is on the inside and makes the turn when the fox is turned back or turns, pulling the pack with him,” said Young. Following the devastation of the pack, Young sent out Orange County Witness ’96 to Potomac Monocacy ’95 in 1998. Out of that litter came the famous ladies of Orange County–Melody, Magic and Modest–who have won so much in the last few years.

Melody, grand champion at Virginia and Bryn Mawr in 2002, is featured on this week’s cover. Melody is still doing quite well on the boards after four seasons in the field. She won her brood bitch class and was reserve cham-pion bitch to Action, the American reserve champion to Forger. “The Essex hound is a better mover and has depth of chest,” said Foster. “I thought Melody was letting herself down a bit when she stands, but she is still a very nice bitch.”

“Action is a Rodney Chadwell [former huntsman of Essex] product,” said John Gilbert, huntsman of Essex Fox Hounds in Peapack, N.J. “She’s very good in the field. We bring her out all the time, and she’s right in the middle,” said Gilbert. “And at the end of the day, she’s always there.”

Elkridge-Harford Fairfax Renews His Title

Elkridge-Harford Fairfax ’03 returned to Bryn Mawr to reign victorious for the second year in a row by winning champion Crossbred hound. By virtue of being last year’s champion, he didn’t have to compete in any classes but showed first in the champion dog hound class. Jerry Miller, MFH Iroquois Hunt (Ky.), picked Fairfax over Green Spring Trimbush ’00, the champion Crossbred in 2002. Then in the Crossbred championship, Fairfax held on over the champion bitch, Elkridge-Harford Tapestry ’02.
“I picked out the hound that I thought was the best stallion hound, which was Fairfax again,” said Miller. “I was very impressed with the quality of the hounds in the Crossbred ring and the showmanship too.” Liz McKnight, jt.-MFH Elkridge-Harford, described Fairfax as “a great hunter and a beautiful hound.”

Andrew’s Bridge SalvoTops Penn-Marydels

Nine packs competed for top honors in the Penn-Marydel ring. Steve Hill, first whipper-in for Andrew’s Bridge, assisted in exhibiting hounds this year and led Andrew’s Bridge Salvo ’01 to victory. Andrew’s Bridge Foxhounds of Christiana, Pa., dominated the three top awards. Robert Crompton III, MFH, also exhibited Andrew’s Bridge Bantam ’01 to the best of opposite sex title.

Andrew’s Bridge’s Elkins took home the silver for best unentered Penn-Marydel hound. “Salvo is an excellent hound, a very good hunter,” said Crompton. “We have a lot of puppies on the ground by him. He has a great voice and a super personality.” Elkins, a beautiful young dog hound, is by Andrew’s Bridge Arnold ’00 out of Bantam. Elkins won his unentered dog class, and littermates Ely and Elliot placed second and third, respectively. Their littermate sister, Elsie, won the unentered bitch class.

Ripshin Banker Returns For Second Basset Title

Ripshin Banker ’02, a handsome black-and-white dog hound, showed everyone that he is still top dog in the Basset ring. Last year he was champion Basset and champion dog hound, and he claimed the titles again. Edgar and Ann Hughston, jt.-MBHs of the Ripshin Bassets, from Columbus, Ga., shared the task of showing their hounds throughout the day.

Edgar handled Banker in the championship class, the only appearance he needed to make since he was a returning champion. Mrs. R.D. Green, MFH of Warwickshire (England), who judged the Bassets, said, “I think the standards in the Basset ring are far higher this year than when I was here seven or eight years ago. The dog hound was very special; he has lovely quality, well-balanced and moves well.”

Said Edgar, “Banker is out of what Ann calls ‘my surprise litter or free-love litter.’ We hunt Banker and two bitches from that litter, and they’re good.” Banker’s dam, Ripshin Bracken, is of royal breeding. She is a daughter of Tewksbury Rifle ’95, champion Basset at Bryn Mawr in 1999, and a daughter of Ripshin Brittle ’93, champion Basset at Bryn Mawr in 1995. Banker’s kennelmate, Ripshin Chastity ’96, presented herself with the energy and form of a much younger hound. The tricolor bitch won the brood bitch class and the veteran hound class, before her triumph as the champion bitch. She stood as reserve champion to Banker.

“She is one of a kind,” said Edgar. “She is larger than most would like, but she’s never a problem and never does anything wrong.” She is by Tewksbury Captain ’90, out of Ripshin Relish ’91. Relish was one of the original puppies out of Ripshin Westerby Rapture who arrived in whelp by Westerby Sergeant from England. Rapture was an important foundation bitch for the Ripshin pack and has also been an important influence on American pack Bassets. Banker’s breeding also goes back to Rapture on both sides of his pedigree.

Western States Hound Show

Huntsman Brian Kiely was a bit late for the start of the Western States Hound Show. But it didn’t matter, since he ended the day holding the grand foxhound championship for Los Altos Moonshine ’00 and the reserve grand championship for Los Altos Decoy ’03.

Kiely had a good excuse for being late, though. He had to split his showing duties with nursing a littler of puppies. One of the Los Altos bitches had a difficult time whelping three days before the show, and he had to hand-feed the 12 puppies every two hours. But the grand championship was ample reward for the loss of sleep.

The sixth annual Western States Hound Show was held May 22-23 in Los Alamos, Calif., on the scenic Kick On Ranch, headquarters of the Santa Ynez Valley Hunt, located in the heart of its 8,000-acre hunting country. Moonshine captured the English dog hound championship on his way to the grand title. “This hound has excellent conformation and the best hunting blood you can get,” judge Daphne Wood commented. “Anyone with a bitch here, my advice is, send her to breed to him.”

Consulting his pedigree, Wood noted that the big, lemon-and-white dog’s grandsire was Exmoor Pewter ’89, said to be the best hunting hound in Ireland when sent there by the late Capt. Ronnie Wallace to stand at stud for two years. Daphne and Marty Wood, who judged the show together, each commented on the high standard of the English hounds represented at the show. “Good enough to go to the Virginia Hound Show; if they hunt well, I would advise sending them,” Marty said, referring to the champion English bitch, Toronto & North York Letter ’00, shown by Santa Ynez Valley Hunt.

“She’s beautiful and an exceptional mover,” Daphne said of Letter, explaining why she placed Moonshine as English champion over her. “We felt, all things being equal, we should give it to the dog hound because it’s so difficult to breed a big dog that’s full of quality.” Los Altos also fielded the Crossbred champion, who claimed reserve grand championship honors, Decoy.

The distinctive blue-mottled dog with red face and ears was bred by the Los Altos and also won the Crossbred championship at the 2003 Western States Hound Show. Champion American foxhound went to West Hills Spike ’02, who, according to Cynthia Shea, West Hills kennel huntsman, shows a lot of his July breeding going back to Ben Hardaway’s Midland (Ga.) hounds. Kiely finished the day by winning the horn-blowing competition. Daphne and Marty Wood also gave a hound-showing seminar at the kennels Saturday, which was very well received by participants representing five Western hunts. In addition to Santa Ynez Valley, the three California hunts attending were Los Altos Hounds, Santa Fe Hunt and West Hills Hunt. The Red Rock Hounds traveled l0 hours from Reno, Nev., to walk away with the popular pack class on Sunday evening.

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